Pottawatomie v. Earls (2002)

In 2002, the Supreme Court decided a second case involving drug testing of participants in extra-curricular activity.  It had already decided the case of Vernonia v. Acton.  

Lindsay and Lacey Earls wanted to participate in the choir and Future Farmers of America at Tecumseh High School .  When the school in 1998 required random drug-testing in all extra-curricular activities involving competition with other schools, the girls were subjected to urinalysis on several occasions.  They always tested negative.    

Finally, they brought a lawsuit against the school and lost in the federal district court.  They appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  It agreed that drug-testing students who engaged in extracurricular activities other than athletics (where the Supreme Court had already ruled in favor of drug testing) was a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights.

The school district appealed to the Supreme Court.   In a 5-4 ruling, it upheld the school's drug-testing program.  The court majority said the drug policy was "entirely reasonable" given the "nation-wide epidemic of drug use."  Writing in dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that "the particular testing program upheld today is not reasonable, it is capricious, even perverse" since it was targeting motivated students who were "least likely to be at risk from illicit drugs and their damaging effects."

Although the ruling addressed "competitive" extra-curricular activities, it opened the door wide to drug testing in all extra-curricular activities, and could lead to the random testing of all students.  Critics fear it would be counterproductive, causing students to drop out of the very activities that could keep them engaged and away from drugs.

See Lindsay Earls talk about her case: http://aclu.tv/node/66
Read the decision: http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=01-332

In May 2004, a lawsuit was settled between the Muskogee , Oklahoma Public School District and the US Department of Justice.  The school agreed it had violated the constitutional rights of Nashala Hearn, a sixth grade Muslim girl, when it prevented her from wearing a Muslim headscarf known as a hijab to the Benjamin Franklin Science Academy.  She was suspended twice during the 2003-4 school year for wearing the headscarf to school, even though the school allowed other students to wear head coverings for non-religious reasons.   Under the settlement the school district will revise its dress code policy to permit exceptions for religious reasons.  

After the ACLU intervened, school officials in Mustang Middle School called for removing the record of her suspension from the file of a 14-year-old who was punished in 2005 for possession of prescription drugs.  The school subsequently adopted a policy requiring all prescription drugs to be checked in at the school office.